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Percentage of Students with Bachelor’s Degrees Enrolling in Two-Year Institutions Reaches a New Low

Aug 25, 2016 | Media Center, Press Releases, Research News

Students Over 30 Least Likely to Seek More Education at Community Colleges or Other Two-Year Schools

HERNDON, VA (Aug. 25, 2016)The percentage of students enrolling in community colleges or other two-year institutions, after earning bachelor’s degrees, is at its lowest point in 14 years, according to a new National Student Clearinghouse® Research Center™ report, “Two-Year Enrollment after Bachelor’s Degree.” For students who earned a bachelor’s degree in the 2013-14 academic year, only 5.8 percent went on to enroll in a two-year institution. This downward trend applies to public, private, and for-profit institutions, and for all ages and genders.

“The Great Recession compelled many individuals to return to college,” said Doug Shapiro, Executive Research Director of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. “Upon earning their bachelor’s degrees, those students typically did not seek further training at two-year institutions.”

Students who are over 30 when they earn their bachelor’s degree are the least likely to seek further education at a two-year institution. Even during the recession, this age group did not see a spike in post-bachelor’s enrollment in two-year institutions, unlike those under 30. The over 30 group accounted for 17.5 percent of all 2013-14 bachelor’s degrees reported to the Clearinghouse, up from 14.7 percent for 2000-01.

Of the 10 most common fields of study for bachelor’s degrees, only graduates in biology, psychology, and health professions have continued to enroll in two-year institutions at roughly pre-recession levels. For most other fields, the percentage of bachelor’s degree earners who subsequently enroll in two-year institutions has fallen to the lowest levels in the study period.

On average, only 17 percent of bachelor’s degree earners, who enroll in two-year institutions do so full-time. That percentage climbed to a recession-era high of 20 percent in 2008-09, before stabilizing once again at 17 percent. Even fewer, 8.5 percent, go on to earn an associate degree within four years.

About the National Student Clearinghouse®

The National Student Clearinghouse, a nonprofit formed in 1993, is the trusted source for and leading provider of higher education verifications and electronic education record exchanges, handling more than 1.4 billion education record transactions annually.

The Clearinghouse serves as a single point of contact for the collection and timely exchange of accurate and comprehensive enrollment, degree, and certificate records on behalf of its more than 3,600 participating higher education institutions, which represent 98 percent of all students in public and private U.S. institutions. The Clearinghouse also provides thousands of high schools and districts with continuing collegiate enrollment, progression, and completion statistics on their alumni.

Through its verification, electronic exchange, and reporting services, the Clearinghouse saves the education community cumulatively over $750 million annually. Most Clearinghouse services are provided to colleges and universities at little or no charge, including enhanced transcript and research services, enabling institutions to redistribute limited staff and budget resources to more important student service efforts. Clearinghouse services are designed to facilitate an institution’s compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, The Higher Education Act, and other applicable laws. The Clearinghouse has signed the Student Privacy Pledge and is the first recipient of’s FERPA compliance badge, which was awarded to its StudentTracker for High Schools service.

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